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Springfield City Council to consider changes to city ethics rules, mayor's term in office

Springfield, Missouri's Busch Municipal Building, photographed Aug. 9, 2022.
Gregory Holman/KSMU
Springfield, Missouri's Busch Municipal Building.

Late Thursday, the city of Springfield announced a Monday City Council meeting to consider changes to city charter. City voters would ultimately approve or reject any changes.

City Council will meet Monday, December 4 at noon in the Busch building downtown.

On the agenda for the unusually-timed meeting — two possible changes to the city charter.

Approved by voters in 1953, Springfield’s city charter is like a constitution that sets out governance rules on the city level, just like how the Missouri constitution and the U.S. constitution address those levels of government. Ultimately, city voters would get a chance to approve or reject any changes to the Springfield charter.

First, Council will first review potential changes to a portion of the charter that regulates financial conflicts of interest for city employees and elected officials with their own business ventures.

The charter’s current language says “no member of the council and no salaried officer or employee of the City shall have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in any contract with the City.” The penalty is being booted out of office.

As the Springfield Daily Citizen reported back in January, some city leaders hoped to loosen up that language because state law allows an exception for elected officials or employees who own a company. They can do $5,000 worth of business with the city without getting into ethics trouble. In January, council talks over the changes broke down.

Council to consider doubling length of Springfield mayor's term in office

On Monday, the council will also look at lengthening the Springfield mayor’s term in office. Currently, the eight regular councilmembers serve four-year terms, while the mayor’s term lasts only two years. Some have advocated for the mayor’s term to match the councilmembers’ terms. The proposed changes would keep the mayor limited to eight years in office total.

The earliest election for a four-year mayor would be in 2025. The current mayor, Ken McClure, has been elected four times and is currently serving his final two-year term.

As of Friday morning, it wasn’t yet clear when either change to city charter could potentially go before eligible Springfield voters.

The next Missouri municipal election is set for April 2, 2024.

Gregory Holman is a KSMU reporter and editor focusing on public affairs.